Letter to Lucy on your 3rd Birthday

My dear, sweet Lucy:

Your sister Scarlett is six months old and I have returned to singing with SoCo Women’s Chorus. This concert’s theme is “Seasons of Love”. The show opens with these words:

Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes,

Five hundred twenty-five thousand moments so dear.

Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes;

How do you measure, measure a year?”

Even though we are several weeks into rehearsals, it didn’t hit me until yesterday that, in addition to another selection “There is a Season”, this song constitutes a perfect tribute to you and your all-too-brief year of life.

The song goes on to determine that we should “remember the love” and “measure [a year] in love.”

By that measure, you lived as long as anyone possibly can. You were and are loved and treasured beyond measure. Every moment of those 15 months belongs among my dearest memories. In fact, you will live as long as those who love and remember you live.

The third anniversary of your birth is two days from now. We visited you yesterday. While we were there, Daddy and I told Max and Scarlett everything we could think of about you. Max misses you and they both love to hear about you as well as watch videos of you.

We plan to celebrate your birthday with another balloon release, dinner at one of our favorite Mexican restaurants, and a small replica of your first birthday cake. I hope the day will be easier than it was last year. I expect tears, but also smiles and laughter as we remember you and imagine having you here with us now.

When our concert comes, 10 days before the next anniversary of your death, I will sing my heart out for you on every song, but especially on the two mentioned above.

Thank you for giving me the courage to live my life to the fullest. I will always do that for you, as well as for myself.

I love you so much, my baby.

Love, Mama

 

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To Anti-Vax Parents from a Pro-Vax Parent

Dear Anti-Vaccine Parents,

Hi, I’m a pro-vaccine parent. I have been pro-vax since long before I saw the second pink line, since long before my daughter was diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy, placed on the heart transplant list, and restricted from live vaccines.

I understand that twinge of fear when your child is vaccinated. I felt it, because nothing in life is risk-free.

I know you’ve heard about the “Disneyland measles”. I know you are probably angry and scared.

I am angry and scared, too. I admit that some of the time I am angry at you. Most of the time, however, I am angry at the diseases and angry at the divisive rhetoric that, well, divides us.

Anyone who is truly pro-vaccine, well-informed, and a decent person with empathy knows these facts deep down:

We are all parents.

We are all angry and scared.

We also know these facts about many anti-vax parents:

You are not stupid.

You are not selfish.

You are not bad parents.

You don’t want children to be sick, maimed for life, or dead.

We also readily admit these facts:

Vaccines do have risks. The risks really are much smaller than the risks associated with the diseases.

The risks of the diseases are catastrophic, but unlikely. Still, they are more likely than catastrophic injury from a vaccine.

That is if you actually get the diseases. The risk of getting the diseases is still quite small. Vaccination rates are still quite high. But there are pockets of very low immunity and the numbers of unvaxed and delayed vax children have gone up as the population has grown.

This outbreak is quite small (but still growing). We are overreacting to this outbreak, but reacting properly to what future outbreaks will look like if the anti-vaccination movement continues to grow.

Vaccines are not 100% effective. Some people don’t develop antibodies for some reason. The mumps vaccine is only about 80% effective, because a stronger one produced serious reactions during tests. They chose a weaker, safer vaccine. Still, when enough people get it, mumps can’t circulate.

Honestly, I don’t want to have to care about your medical choices as a parent. I’ve realized after three children that every “Mommy War” but this one is ridiculous. That’s because this isn’t a “Mommy War”. It’s a public health issue.

We all need to talk to each other.

No yelling, no name-calling, no condemning the person instead of the argument. No accusations of being a “shill”. No talk of mandatory vaccinations. (I am not in favor of that by the way.) People on both sides need to feel the other side is listening.

In the interest of full disclosure, I am in favor of:

Disclosure of the number of unvaccinated children attending schools and daycares

Stricter requirements to obtain a “personal belief” exemption

Keeping unvaccinated children out of school and possibly quarantined during an outbreak or epidemic (That includes children with medical waivers, as my daughter would have had when she attended school.)

Let’s discuss.

 

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